06 April 2024

Serious injuries from fallen tree branches prompts reminder about tree maintenance.

Several recent incidents involving people being seriously injured from falling tree branches has prompted SafeWork SA to remind businesses to ensure regular inspections of trees are undertaken.

In February, a person was fatally injured when a branch fell from a tree they were sitting under in the Adelaide Park Lands. In the same month a person attending a funeral was seriously injured under similar circumstances. Last November, a group of people attending a wedding in Belair were injured by falling tree branches.

Tree limb failure and trees falling over can occur for various reasons:

  • Excessive moisture in the tree
  • Significant rain events
  • Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome
  • Age of the tree
  • Decay/damage to the tree
  • Genus species of the tree (Oak, elm, beech, redwood ash, sycamore and eucalyptus are more prone to limb drop)

All trees pose a level of risk either from falling branches or complete tree fall. Trees in frequently visited areas pose a higher level of risk of injury to the public given they are used for shelter from wind, rain, or heat.

Therefore, in highly populated areas trees that are not prone to dropping limbs should  be planted.

Safety solutions

A risk assessment or hazard identification should be completed on all trees under the management or control of a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to ensure the risks are identified and a system of work is developed to adequately manage the risk.

A system of work for inspecting trees and branches should incorporate regular visual inspections and recommended periodical inspections by an Arborist.

Arboriculture inspections provide workplaces with a health check of trees and identify works required to adequately maintain the trees.

Regular inspections increase the likelihood that a stressed branch, trunk or tree may be identified, and a control measure be put in place.

Arborist reports provide information on:

  • The species and hazard level of the tree
  • Recommended maintenance schedule
  • Identified risks with the tree and costing guidelines to maintain the tree
  • Advice on any significant or regulated trees and required approvals before maintenance works can commence.

Members of the public are encouraged to report damaged trees to exercise caution when using headphones or similar noise cancelling/altering devices when in areas that are densely populated with trees.

Further information:

Tree felling | SafeWork SA

Tree-felling-Information-sheet.pdf (safework.sa.gov.au)

Guide to managing the risks of tree work | Safe Work Australia

guide-to-managing-risks-tree-trimming-removal-01082016.pdf (safeworkaustralia.gov.au)